Taking visitors to a different world altogether, Hrísey Island, rightly nicknamed ‘The Pearl of Eyjafjörður’, is sure to put you under a spell as soon as you set eyes on its captivating view. Whether the skies are clear or the weather is rainy, the little island creates nothing but an enchantment, not to mention the stunning views of high snow and stormy winters! The island is located just a 15-minute ferry ride off Iceland’s northern coast in Eyjafjörður Fjord and is perfect for a peaceful getaway in a beautiful cradle of nature.
Originally established as a settlement in the 10th century, the magnificent island is just 8 square km in size and is situated approximately 37 km north of Akureyri. Along with being geographically remote, Hrísey Island has less than 200 inhabitants and is dominantly dedicated as a nature reserve in support of some of the lushest vegetation found in Iceland.
What You Will Find & What You Can Do
The main livelihood of residents is the fishing industry. The island is well-known for its mussels and has a little fish factory that prepares and packs dried fish. With one small shop, two dainty little café-restaurants, a guesthouse, campsite and a recreational swimming pool, the Island offers sufficient services for the handful of inhabitants and rare visitors. Just a short distance from the swimming pool and sports center, you can find a small beach that remains deserted, yet serene enough to feel like you have entered a complexly different dimension of tranquility.
For those who are more inclined towards the cultural heritage and rich history of the island, there are two museums for you to explore. The oldest building in the community, the local shark museum will take you on a trip to the history of shark fishing Hrísey Island is known for. Whereas in Holt, the memorial museum of Alda Halldórsdóttir, you can see a unique representation of the typical working-class home from the era where the old sublimated into the new.
Enjoying the simple pleasures of the traditional town, the citizens of the island invite visitors to indulge in the same for an authentic experience. With many activities to choose from, you can try bird watching in a tiny hut north of the village, showcasing the rich birdlife of the island. You can find plenty of hiking trails stretched across the flat moorlands, all covered in graceful purple heather to make a picturesque scene, while walks to the local lighthouse will leave you mesmerized with breathtaking sunrise and sunset views.
The unique tractor-rides exclusive to the island include tractor-pulled hayride tours around the town. Even when you need a ride, tractor-taxis are the specialty! Expect to see tractors on the road for a distinctive feature of the fairytale island! Along with all the sites and activities, it is highly recommended by locals and visitors to sample the island’s signature dish. It is made with mouthwatering blue mussels, sourced fresh from the sea, adding to the aquatic heritage of the island.
Tourism in Hrísey
Hrísey is a popular tourist spot among Icelanders and other visitors during summer. A family festival is held by the locals every July, offering a memorable experience of local food, live music, orienteering, tractor rides, a trip to the beach along the famous local clown amongst numerous other traditional activities. The evenings see the second round of color and bliss, featuring on-stage entertainment in the village center, bonfire nights, local singing and so much more. In celebration of the renowned festival, ferries full of people and extra groceries are shipped off from Árskógssandur, ready to enjoy the festivities and merriments.
How to Get There
You can find a small ferry that departs from the Árskógssandur pier daily. The ride takes a short half an hour to reach Hrísey island but can be enjoyed as a part of the adventure, viewing the beautiful island from afar.
Price for ferries on order:
Adults – 1500 isk
Children [12-15 years] – 750 isk